HRDF sues man for joining Germany training while claiming to be journalist

A general view of Malaysiakini’s newsroom in Kuala Lumpur May 24, 2018. — Reuters pic
A general view of Malaysiakini’s newsroom in Kuala Lumpur May 24, 2018. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 20 — The Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) has sued M. Krishnamoorthy whom it accused of falsely claiming to be a journalist to undergo a sponsored training in Germany.

In documents for the lawsuit filed in December 2018, HRDF said it had approved a training programme called “The Industry 4.0 and Digitalisation Programme for Media” conducted by K-Pintar Sdn Bhd from December 4, 2017, to December 10, 2017, in Berlin, Germany.

HRDF claimed to have paid the training cost of RM53,385 for each participant who fulfilled the condition of being a journalist with a media company when applying for the programme.

HRDF asserted that Krishnamoorthy had on November 18, 2017, submitted his application to join the programme in which he allegedly represented himself as a journalist with online news company Malaysiakini; he also allegedly attached an edited payslip that suggested it was from Malaysiakini.

HRDF said it then approved Krishnamoorthy’s application based on the application and supporting documents, noting that he went on to enjoy the benefits of the programme by attending it in Germany.

“Around December 2018, plaintiff received confirmation that the defendant is actually not a journalist working with Malaysiakini when the application was made. Defendant never worked as a journalist with Malaysiakini and had only contributed several essays for a column in Malaysiakini,” HRDF alleged.

HRDF accused Krishnamoorthy of fraud for claiming to be a Malaysiakini journalist despite knowing otherwise, of failing to explain the allegedly doctored payslip, and of participating in the scheme despite purportedly not meeting the requirement.

Claiming that Krishnamoorthy had unjustly enriched himself by going on the programme it funded, the company is seeking for RM53,385 from him with interest.

In his statement of defence dated this month that was also sighted by Malay Mail, Krishnamoorthy asserted that he is a journalist as well as a columnist with 190 articles published by Malaysiakini since 2009 and was an editor for several books.

Krishnamoorthy further said he is currently working as a full-time associate professor in the Department of Journalism in Xiamen University while working as a freelance writer for Malaysiakini.

Later in the statement, he also asserted that “journalist” carried the same meaning as “columnist”.

He asserted that HRDF had no legal standing to sue him, claiming that the training was jointly organised by K-Pintar and the European School of Management.

He said that HRDF was not involved in his participation in the training, as his selection to join the programme was made by K-Pintar. He said HRDF should direct its claims towards K-Pintar if it had struck any deal with the company in relation to the training.

He denied the training cost stated by HRDF and claimed to have no knowledge of HRDF’s condition for participation in the programme.

Among other things, Krishnamoorthy said he had received an invitation from training provider K-Pintar to join the programme, and that he had informed the company in November 2017 that he was a freelance journalist for Malaysiakini and therefore did not have a monthly pay slip from the media outlet.

Krishnamoorthy said he had enquired whether his monthly payslip as Xiamen University’s associate professor was sufficient and that he had subsequently sent an application form which stated he was a “freelance writer/journalist” along with supporting documents.

He said K-Pintar had approved his application without objections, further stating that it was impossible that he had committed fraud or misrepresentation towards HRDF as he had only dealt with K-Pintar.

He asked the court to strike out HRDF’s lawsuit.

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